Offences in the name of fatwa continue in the country despite their being declared illegal by the courts is unacceptable. However, the continued proactive role of the High Court on the issue is encouraging.
Recently, in response to a petition filed against a fatwa being imposed on a homemaker in Chittagong, the HC ordered a case to be filed and for those responsible to be arrested. The victim, who had filed a case of sexual harassment against a local political leader and his associates, was sentenced by him and his cronies at a village arbitration to be buried chest-deep into the ground and stoned.
The problem here is manifold. Not only were the woman's grievances not addressed by the local authorities, but the accused took upon themselves the responsibility of punishing her for speaking out against them, with apparently no action being taken by the local police. Such gross transgressions of justice by the law enforcing agencies will discourage victims of crime from coming forward and reporting them. Not only is justice not served but in addition, the victims are re-victimised for reporting their perpetrators. The cycle of violence against the most vulnerable in society -- rural, poor women -- continues.
In such scenarios, the local community has a vital role to play in preventing such crimes from happening and reporting them when they do. In the above case, too, the matter came into public discourse after it was reported in the media, following which a human rights advocate filed the petition and the HC made its ruling -- which we hope will be promptly implemented. While urging the authorities to do the needful in preventing and punishing fatwa related offences, we also appeal to the community at large to take a stand against such barbarism, by protesting it, reporting it and supporting the victims in their fight for justice.